Electronic music in Germany: the story

Electronic music in Germany: the story

The early Years

When it comes to electronic music, Germany is not only an early adapter but a country of pioneers. German technicians and musicians such as Karlheinz Stockhausen were among the first to develop, build and use electronic sound generators or synthesizers in the 1960’s and 70’s. In the beginning, the first tinkering with electronically created sounds wasn’t much more than modulating a sinus tone.

Even though the roots of electronic music lie in the reinvention of classical music, artists from other genres were quickly drawn in by the new possibilities. The most important band in this aspect, but also one of the most important German bands in general, was Kraftwerk. The new technological possibilities heavily influenced their work, while their work was enormously influential on countless other musicians, artists and people in general. One of the best-known examples that prove Kraftwerk’s impact on music is that a sample from one of the bands songs was essential in the quasi-invention of hip hop by Afrika Bambaataa.

Development in the 1990’s

In the 1980’s the sound of synthesizers, drum machines and electronic keyboards coined the “Neue Deutsche Welle”, basically Germany’s version of wave music. But as electronic music was not only “invented” in one place, the development of technologies and opportunities didn’t just occur in Germany. Entering the age of global communication, the international exchange became quicker and quicker.

Different subcultural and social circumstances benefited the quasi-simultaneous creation of techno and house music in different places. Though they might not have been the only ones, Chicago, Detroit, London, Paris and Berlin were the central breeding grounds for this new kind of music. The 1990’s brought a whole novel culture of music, dance and party. Techno and its musical relatives quickly turned from underground art to a massively popular phenomenon. In Berlin, the Love Parade was invented – a techno parade that witnessed an extreme growth of participants in a short amount of time.

Soon more than a million people celebrated the annually held parade. But this wasn’t the only electronic music spectacle. As the demand for raves grew, more and more gigantic techno parties were held in arenas and large music clubs all over the country. At the same time, the large music labels understood that there was a lot of money to be made with electronic music and the genre and its sub-genres soon became a huge market. This, of course, took its toll on the music itself, generating varieties of pop-techno, pop-trance or pop-house music, opening electronic music even further to the masses. From a musical standpoint, this lead to a great simplification of an already simply designed kind of music. Results were highly successful sub-genres like Eurodance, which in retrospect was in the uttermost cases badly made, horrible music.

Electronic Music in Germany
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The Rise of EDM

In the late 90’s the demand for large raves and dulled down techno rapidly sunk and so did its popularity. Eurodance and its successors such as Schlager infused with electronic beats kept on going for a while, but soon the international rise of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) began. This quite vaguely named musical genre is basically electronic/techno/pop created for large audiences. The stars of this development are internationally known acts such as David Guetta from France or the Kalkbrenner brothers from Germany.

The Status Quo of Electronic Music in Germany

Nowadays, electronic music like almost all music is globalized, meaning that even though Berlin is definitely one of the world’s capitals of electronic music hedonism, Germany cannot claim to be a harbor of pioneers of the trade. The technological development of musical instruments can be followed in concurrency to the development of electronic music itself. In the beginning, the instruments were analog electronic devices. They developed to cheaper and easier accessible instruments made up from digital technology and later fully migrated into computers, making it easy for anyone to create electronic music.